Better late than never is the new mantra for three elderly brothers who met for the first time this weekend after being separated more than 70 years ago.
Since meeting at a Florida airport Friday, David Beyer, 75, Noel Thompson, 70, and Donald Thompson, 92, have relished spending recent days getting to know each other before they fly back to their respective homes across the country, the brothers told ABC News.
"You can't believe how much joy this has brought," Beyer of Fort Myers, Fla., said.
All three brothers have the same father, but only Beyer, who was born out of wedlock, was offered up for adoption before he was born. He said he knew that he had a younger, full biological brother somewhere out there.
"I knew Noel existed, but it would be a fleeting thought," he said.
What he didn't realize was that he also had another, older half-brother, Donald Thompson, who was born to a different mother and had gone to live with her after their father left.
Donald Thompson became aware of his youngest half-brother, Noel Thompson's existence after their grandfather's obituary revealed he had left behind another grandson. He had been searching for him for a number of years, without success.
It wasn't until Beyer's daughter, Nancy Taylor, 49, jumped onto ancestry.com four months ago and did some exhaustive research that the mystery of her father's family origins began to become clearer.
Taylor said the "need to know" who her grandmother was drove her to dig deeper into the family's roots. The mother of the men falsified some aspects of their birth records with misspelled names, so it took a lot of digging for Taylor to uncover the truth.
"I wasn't going to stop until I found them," she said. "When I did find them, it was more a relief than a surprise."
After weeks of careful investigation and a few nerve-wracking cold calls, Taylor tracked down both of her father's brothers and finally united the trio.
The siblings, who sat talking and laughing in Beyer's living room Saturday afternoon, said the similarities between them were not so much physical as they were mental.
"I never thought this would happen," big brother Donald Thompson of Michigan said Saturday. "I can't believe the bond that's been created between us, although we've only seen each other for the first time. The blood in our veins is mingling right now."
The three were already talking about the next time they might be able to visit and about meeting the rest of their newly discovered families. Donald Thompson and Noel Thompson are even considering moving to Florida so all three can be closer to each other.
"There's a whole generation of people we don't know yet," Beyer said. "This has been a day and a half of unimaginable things."
Noel Thompson of Arizona said, "It's like an empty feeling that you've had all your life. You don't know, though, until you find what it is that can fill that."